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Collaborative email: Why Your Team Should use it now

By February 23rd, 2024No Comments
collaborative email

One of the most efficient and versatile current means of communication is email. Not just for personal use, the impact email has had on the way businesses are held now, is truly impressive. Gmail statistics show that the average worker gets about 120 emails a day. However, when not handled and organized properly it leads to a lack of productivity issues and other problems.

New elements, like collaborative email, are responsible for removing those inconveniences. As a result, email works for its users, not the other way around.

But, what is a Collaborative Email, anyway?

In a nutshell, Collaborative Email is an inbox to which several people have access to. Work team members can access this collaborative email and work from it. This is a much more practical approach than having big teams working from their personal email accounts.

There are multiple ways to do this. Usually what companies do is that they give the login credentials to the entire team. It is something that Sales, Info, and Support teams implement before they experience multiple issues regarding email organization, time efficiency, lack of productivity, and mainly not knowing who’s working on what.

The issues with non-collaborative email

While a small company can likely get away with sharing login credentials, it’s not the smartest choice. There are two main concerns here: lack of accountability and security risks. Usually, the bigger the team, the higher the risk on both these ends.

Lack of accountability

If you use an email account for all your team’s needs, the workflow will get confusing as your team grows. For instance, say you create sales@company to close deals with potential new clients. Now, everyone in your sales team will need to log in, check any messages with their potential clients, forward them to themselves and work on an answer.

If you receive more emails in the meantime, no one is there to check them promptly, leading to a bad professional email response time and unhappy clients. The same issue happens with customer service: the busier the team is, the harder it is to keep up.

The flip side is also true: say two team members see an incoming query and decide to work on it. Then, you have miscommunication with the customer and within the team, leading to resources and time spent with no results.

Safety risks

Even small teams, upon sharing login credentials, risk breaches and data leaks. And when you’re working as a company, you are putting sensitive data into multiple devices, which act as endpoints. And the risk grows with each new person (and device) that accesses the account.

If an employee’s device is hacked or stolen or maybe they are targeted by a phishing scam, you face compromising the account itself. And when your entire team works with the same account, the problem is much bigger. That’s why one of the key security best practices for business accounts is not sharing credentials.

Who needs to implement collaborative email?

Collaborative email helps teams with easy inbox access for everyone. Nobody will ever lose track of their progress or stress over a cluttered inbox or an endless email thread. Collaborative email gives everyone the right amount of control and power to enhance productivity and efficiency as a team.

Another great aspect of collaborative email is that it helps reduce easy-to-make mistakes that can be costly for the company. These errors include emailing clients in error or having team members emailing clients simultaneously over the same issue. This reduces the trustworthy perception of your brand. It could also happen that no one responds at all, which is even worse than sending wrong or repetitive information. After all, your customers need to be heard promptly.

Collaborative inboxes allow users to access the same interface simultaneously. With the right team email, you can easily assign, delegate, send notes in an email, and many more features.

A work team playing more than one role

If you have a small company some team members may be performing more than one role for the company. At this point, team members are probably sharing some of their work, like responding to customer inquiries. What are your strategies for answering questions from clients, users, and sponsors? Ideally, at this point, all staff members should be capable of answering any business-related question.

That being said, traditional email requires people to keep each other in the loop, by forwarding, CC and BCCing the entire department. As it turns out, that clutters everyone’s inbox with a lot of information that might not even be relevant anymore.

Departments with shared responsibilities

Companies should be using multiple inboxes for different sections within the company, like sales@, info@, or support@. Those are accessed by multiple staff members, so you may want to start considering using collaborative email.

The first reason to do it is to address possible security issues. Imagine the sales department of a company. With regular email accounts, they have no option but to share email credentials with the rest of the team. As this means the account can be accessed through multiple devices, it leads to more endpoint concerns. If one device is not secure, the entire account might be compromised. Data leaks might happen, which is even more concerning when it comes to sensitive information such as customer’s contacts or industry details.

This leads to another issue. Using a regular inbox as a collaborative one – when everybody is sharing the email password –  doesn’t mean they are all allowed to work the inbox at the same time. There’s still a limitation on the number of people who can access the inbox. That scenario isn’t practical at all. Gmail, for instance, might flag your activity as suspicious if devices from multiple geotags are logged into it at the same time.

In addition to these types of scenarios, it’s important to understand the accountability and availability of sharing an account. Think about other instances that will become an issue if you don’t have a collaborative email. Who admins the shared account? What happens if someone loses access? What if a device is lost or stolen? Who organizes all of it, especially if people are logging in from different places, as most teams work digitally? What happens if they’re not around? All of this leads to extra concerns that take a lot of time for smaller teams to deal with, therefore losing productivity?

Collaborative email gives everyone in the team access, using their own login credentials. Whoever is on the team, can access the shared inbox at will and at the same time. Then the admins can keep track of who’s working on what, seamlessly.
Small businesses can grow. One-man companies may require additional staff. It all comes down to their growth plans and how well they’re doing in the market. It’s great to see small companies developing and expanding, and kudos to you if you’re actually considering growing as a brand. Despite that, both big and small companies need to be aware of the downside of growth.

Think about customer support issues for example. A dissatisfied customer is sending emails regarding an issue that’s particularly difficult to handle. It may be a situation where ten heads are better than one, so you decide to share it. Before you know it, there’s an endless thread of email forwards and CCs that will tangle everything.

The advantage of a well-organized collaborative email is that it helps – a lot – with delegating and optimizing your workflow. Instead of spending too much time trying to keep the whole team in the loop, wouldn’t it be easier to have them all be able to see what’s going on? And check in from a central dashboard, where you can assign tasks, define deadlines and so on?

assigned to me

Back to the customer support example: instead of having to CC the email thread to everyone, it’s much easier to @mention a team member to fix the issue and answer the customer’s query. With a collaborative inbox, this becomes part of your workflow: they see their assignments and take on the task, with no need to browse through endless threads.

Turn Gmail into your Team’s Workspace.

  • 2.5x faster email responses.
  • 20 hours less spent per month, per team member.
  • 40% more deadlines achieved and happier teams.
Try for Free

How to implement collaborative email in your business

Now that we’ve established that sharing credentials is risky and email threads are cluttering, what’s the solution? There are different ways to set up a collaborative email system for your company. Here are the three most common methods:

Method 1: Email groups

Google itself has a solution for emailing multiple people at the same time: Google Groups. While this solution isn’t ideal, it has been used by teams to stay connected since its inception.

Here’s how it works: team leaders create a list that includes all team members. Then, instead of having to email each one individually, all you need to do is message the group’s address and everyone is notified. The same happens with replies: when anyone answers to the group, the entire team can see it.

It’s still a bit cluttered, which is why it has fallen out of use in recent years. However, there are still advantages: you can set up different configurations. So the email group can be information-only, with admins being the only ones allowed to start threads. This is great for sending out reminders and information. The groups’ settings allow for different message-receiving preferences as well: you can receive all emails, digests or abridged versions.

Technically, you could set up different groups for each company department and organize them by the kind of conversation it requires. This solution is free and you can use the email accounts you already have. Simply add people wherever they need to read incoming mail. This is great for customer support teams: instead of having their address public, they receive queries from the public-facing address. Managers and owners who need to keep up with the conversation could get abridged versions from all groups and stay aware of any relevant changes.

Method 2: Dedicated platforms

Another solution might be moving email to other platforms that work with your workflow. So for instance, a customer support team using a helpdesk system or CRM tools being used by marketing for storing contacts. This is useful because you can connect your email account to this software and it will organize the pipeline.

Of course, this is useful for the team, but it steers away from actual collaborative email because it requires logging into another platform. This comes with an added problem: context-switching, the loss of productivity from jumping between digital spaces to complete tasks.

Besides, there are two additional concerns here: feature bloat and added costs. Some of these platforms offer free versions. but most of them are paid. And they include a lot of different resources to make it worth the subscription cost. However, you might not even need them all: that’s feature bloat, too much to deal with, digital clutter. Besides, at many companies, you’d need to sign up for various platforms to actually fulfill your pipeline. And those costs add up, which is a risk, especially for small businesses.

Method 3: Shared inbox

That’s why a shared inbox is the perfect solution for collaborative email. Instead of sharing login credentials or having to integrate multiple platforms, wouldn’t it be easier to have all your workflows in the same digital space? That’s the premise of a shared inbox!

You can create a collaborative email address and allow any team members to view this inbox and use it. They can access it through their own accounts, which effectively makes it much more secure. That way, it enhances accountability as well: the whole team can see what’s going on with incoming mail and tasks simultaneously. No more double replies or messages left behind = happier customers and partners.

You can also customize your shared inbox to fit your needs. With DragApp, for instance, you can view it as a Kanban board instead of a traditional inbox. The messages are now tasks and categorized by stages of completion. Need anyone to jump into a query? Just @mention them and assign specific deadlines.

kanban board screenshot

Other advantages of a shared inbox for collaborative email

Besides making it easier to view and reply to emails, shared inboxes can be a huge help in overall productivity. Most shared inbox tools, like Drag, offer automation that enhances your work. For example, customer support email is always busy and requires a lot of planning, right?

Automation tools can help things move much faster. Managers can auto-assign incoming tasks based on availability (with email round robin), which cuts down on time spent finding the ideal person to take on a query. Another key feature is auto-reply: since customers have common questions, it’s much easier to write templates with the full guide and set up auto-reply rules to answer them. That way, you won’t have to deal with a cluttered inbox every time you log into the customer service account.

Wrapping up

Traditional email might work for entrepreneurs and small businesses, but it comes with a lot of drawbacks. Thankfully, collaborative email has come a long way, with new tools being created to manage, organize and optimize your email-based workflows.

Setting up collaborative email can be a huge change for the future fo your business, leading to a more productive working environment, safer data and better organized teams.

Turn Gmail into your Team’s Workspace.

  • 2.5x faster email responses.
  • 20 hours less spent per month, per team member.
  • 40% more deadlines achieved and happier teams.
Try for Free
Samantha Anacleto

Author Samantha Anacleto

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